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Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 w/Slope Review

Jun. 20, 2005     By     Comments (15)

The Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 is a $449 range finder that measures yardage and slope. How much would you pay to have an exact yardage to every pin?

Bushnell Pinseeker 1500Tiger Woods has long said that the secret to good golf is always being pin high. When you're pin high, you don't have to worry about water hazards, bunkers, or steep slopes beyond the green. You may miss right or left, but if you don't short side yourself, you'll likely be putting most of the time.

Though devices such as the Bushnell PinSeeker 1500 (and the SkyCaddie) are illegal for competitive play, they're acceptable and legal for informal and handicap play. In fact, if you attend a professional tournament during a practice round, you'll see plenty of caddies using the PinSeeker to double-check yardages.

The Basics
Unlike the SkyCaddie, which uses a satellite-based global positioning system (GPS), the Bushnell PinSeeker uses a laser to calculate distances. You look through the PinSeeker and aim the LCD crosshairs at an object - a tree, the flag, the face of a bunker - and the unit sends a pulse of light. The PinSeeker measures the amount of time the light takes to bounce off of the object and return. Some simple math that includes the speed of light (which is constant) yields a yardage.

The PinSeeker measures 1.7" x 5.1" x 3.7" - about the size of two sleeves of balls. It weighs only 11.9 ounces, so those that carry their bag won't notice the additional weight. The range finder is accurate to up to 1500 yards, though only with the use of a reflector. The PinSeeker can find a flag from up to 400 yards, and trees from up to about 1000 yards. In reality, you'll never need it for anything over 400 yards. Not while golfing, anyway.

How's It Work?
The PinSeeker uses a single 9-volt battery. Mine has lasted through 10 rounds and shows no signs of losing power. The PinSeeker has only two buttons - a Power button and a MODE button. The two buttons provide for a simple interface and easy operation.

The single-lens eyepiece features 7x magnification and an LCD that overlays the view and upon which numbers and graphics appear. The diopter can be adjusted to +/- 4 points, so even those with poor vision should be able to view their target clearly.

The PinSeeker measures in yards and meters (pushing MODE for five seconds toggles between the two) to within +/- 1 yard or meter. It also features three different modes: Scan, PinSeeker, and PinSeeker with Slope. Scan mode allows you to scan slowly along a tree line while the LCD updates its measured yardage. This mode is useful if you're standing on the tee looking for a good yardage to a tree line, a creek, or a series of fairway bunkers, but won't be terribly useful on courses with which you are familiar.

The real gem is the PinSeeker mode, or the PinSeeker with Slope mode. PinSeeker mode attempts to find the flag among a sea of highly reflective trees. It does so by acquiring multiple signals and then displaying the distance to the shortest. The theory makes sense, and in practice that theory held up. You've got to be careful to avoid overhanging limbs, though, as occasionally the laser will bounce light off of them and you'll get an unusual yardage.

I use my PinSeeker "with Slope" 99% of the time. If you have 140 yards to an elevated green, it's tough to approximate how long the hole is playing. The PinSeeker is pre-programmed with average club distances and trajectories, and measures the slope to +/- 1 degree. Point the PinSeeker at the flag, hold the Power button to acquire the distance, and let go of the Power button to check the slope. If you've got 140 yards to the pin and the flag is +3°, the PinSeeker uses its built-in distance and trajectory tables to tell you that the hole is playing 151 yards - an extra club. Quite handy!

My Testing
I first tested the PinSeeker at a shooting range. Targets set at 10, 25, 35, 50, 75, 100, 150, and 200 yards were all accurately measured to within a yard or two by the PinSeeker. To check the slope measurements, I borrowed a friend's surveying equipment and found the slope measurements to be similarly accurate.

The PinSeeker is small enough to fit in a pocket of my golf bag. I tried strapping it to the outside of my bag, but it flopped around and got in the way. Unlike the SkyCaddie and due to its larger size, the PinSeeker can't be clipped to a strap and forgotten. If you're a cart-driving kinda guy, well, you've got plenty of room for the PinSeeker.

One somewhat inebriated pal had a hard time acquiring a signal, but I've never had a hard time holding the crosshairs on the target, even in windy conditions. Target acquisition takes about three to five seconds, and if you work the PinSeeker into your pre-shot routine while others are playing, you will not slow up your group at all. Unlike the SkyCaddie, the PinSeeker does require a direct line of sight to the target. If you're frequently behind trees or play a course with several blind shots, you're going to be doing a lot of walking to get yardages, and the PinSeeker may not be for you.

The slope calculation, as I mentioned, has a built-in table of average yardages and trajectories. Whether or not these averages coincide with your game I cannot say, but I found the adjusted yardages to be quite accurate for my game. One hole on my home course typically leaves me anywhere from 50 to 100 yards to a severely uphill green, and the slope adjustments have proven to be quite a help on this hole.

As I said in the SkyCaddie review, I'm a fan of the Dave Pelz wedge method. I can dial in shots within 120 yards quite accurately. The SkyCaddie provides yardages only to the front, middle, and backs of greens, leaving some guesswork about the yardage to the pin. The PinSeeker won't give you front/middle/back yardages, but it will give you the more important number: yardage to the hole. I've put more shots close to the flag from within 120 yards with the PinSeeker than I did with the SkyCaddie, and that's testament enough to me.

The PinSeeker is waterproof and rugged. I not only dropped it in a pond in my testing, but I dropped it on rocks and a cartpath, in a bunker or two, and plenty of times on the grass. It survived each time, though not without a small scuff mark or two.

Pinseeker

Conclusion
Though it's a bit pricy at $449, the PinSeeker - unlike the SkyCaddie, can be used for more than golf. Range finders are used by hunters, photographers, and home builders. You may or may not care how far your neighbor's front door is from your house, but with the PinSeeker you can find out.

When you do use it for golf, it excels at quickly finding the flag and giving an accurate yardage. Given the choice between the SkyCaddie and the PinSeeker, I'll take the PinSeeker. While the SkyCaddie requires a subscription to enable some of its features (especially if you frequently travel to new courses), the PinSeeker "just works." I'm not often behind trees and my home course doesn't have any blind shots, so I almost always have a clear view of the flag. The PinSeeker more than makes up for its extra bulk over the SkyCaddie with the Slope feature. That it measures the distance to the flag and not simply to the edges of the greens is another bonus.

Like the SkyCaddie, the PinSeeker can easily take strokes off of your game. My home course has pretty accurate yardages on the sprinkler heads, but unless you're in the middle of the fairway and the pin is in the middle of the green, you're going to have some guesswork left. Simply put, the PinSeeker eliminates the guesswork.

Discussion

  1. Everardo says:

    Might be good to re-post with rule changes.

  2. Eric Kainer says:

    Excellent review; concise and informative. After much research it was this review that finally convinced me to purchase a Bushnell Pinseeker 1500 (from GolfGods). Many thanks, keep up the good work. (TheSandtrap has now been added to my favourites list).

  3. itae park says:

    Erik,
    you posted another super excellent review!
    The sandtrap.com is by far the best website on Golf!!
    Thank you for the very informative article!

  4. Bushnell review says:

    I have had a Bushnell rangefinder for years - model "Bushnell Yardage Pro Tour Laser Rangefinder." I recommend it highly.

    Process: Walk up to my ball (I normally walk). Pull rangefinder out of pocket in my bag. Aim at flag or other object (bunker, front of green, tree). Press the button and then get read the distance. I can move the rangefinder around and it will give me a continuous reading of distance. Put the rangefinder back in golf bag pocket.

    Advantages:
    It is small - will fit in a small pocket on the side of my bag
    I can use it with one or two hands. Two hands are better if your hands are unsteady.
    Gives me distances from plus 250 down to 30 yards
    Quick - aim, press the button, and read the distance.
    I can aim at the flag, and once it is ranging, I then can then move to the front of the green to figure out how much space I have between the flag and front of green or flag and bunker.
    No need to find sprinklers. This is especially good for me, as I am in the rough a bit.
    No subscriptoin fees or haivng to download stuff frommy PC.

    Disadvantages:
    If I am more than 200 yards away, and the flag is not flapping, sometimes hard to get a reading. But I then read a bunker or the green surface itself, which for me is good enough from 200 plus yards.
    If I am behind an object or can’t see the flag – I can’t get a reading.

    I would highly recommend the Bushnell products. I am not ready to upgrade to the Pinseeker as it is pricey and a bit larger than the one I currently have.

  5. Mushy Marshall says:

    OK so I'm going to buy a Pinseeker but I'm still a little confused as to which model is best......
    1. Bushnell Pinseeker 1500
    2. Bushnell Medallist with Pinseeker technology
    3. Bushnell Tour V2 with Pinseeker technology

    Any comments re relative pros and cons of the above would be greatly appreciated.

    Keep up the good work

  6. Todd D. says:

    The big difference between a laser rangefinder and a GPS system is the accuracy to the flag. After using a rangefinder I can't figure why anyone would use the GPS. It is nice to know the distance front/middle/back, but what if the green is 35 yds deep and slightly elevated and you don't know where the flag is. I can get that info with a yardage book and a sprinkler head. A couple of seconds with the rangefinder and you know exactly the distance to the flag. You can then play your shot accordingly. They are a little hard to get a reading to a flag from 200+ yards, but if you are that far, you probably don't need the exact figure anyway.

    A friend is a big hunter and has been using one for years to mark targets in the field. He doesn't hunt in the summer so it is mine for golf and I give it back when hunting season starts. It is the Bushnell Yardage Pro. From what he tells me, the technology is all the same no matter which model you get. The one that sells for $300 is the same as the one that sells for $1000. You just get a longer range the higher price you go. For golf, you rarely need anything over 250 so go cheap, they all work the same and are accurate +/- 1 yard. Some of the better models have more accurate cross-hairs to make it easier, but that only saves a few seconds. Always check the local yardage as well. If you measure something at 180 yards and you are standing on the 150 marker, you probably hit a tree behind the green. Keep looking until you get the one that makes sense, that is the one you want.

    Also, check out the hunting stores before you buy. A place like Bass Pro Shops will sell their hunting models (even though there is no difference) much cheaper than the golf stores. The R&A and USGA do not allow the slope feature, but their are plenty out there that don't have this feature and you can get them around $300.

  7. Craig says:

    I played my first round with the Pinseeker 1500 w/ Slope. I birdied four holes in less time. I liked that I didn't have to find the course yardage marker, step off the yardage, add or subtract from the red or blue pins. It was just point & shoot like your favorite pocket camera, pick the right club and fire away.

    My only minor complaint was that I pointed at the 18th blue pin at Tiger Woods' Dad Miller facing the sun and couldn't get a reading at about 50 yards out.

    I also have a Sky Caddie from about 4 years ago. With the Sky Caddie, sometimes on an overcast day I could not get readings or they were way off from the Golf Course GPS.

    They both have their advantages, but if I had to pick one, it would be the Pinseeker 1500 Rangefinder. Mainly because you get exact yardage to the pin and can stick it close!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

  8. Tate McKissick says:

    :cry: I am trying to find a downloadable manual for my Bushnell 1500 Tour Edition Yardage pro Golf Pinseeker Laser Rangefinder w/slop calculator.

    Help me with this please point me in the direction I can download.

  9. Paul Wassermann says:

    ;-)

    Love my Bushnell's, have owned about four over the years. To me the biggest advantage over GPS is that you can quite accurately measure the distance to just about anything on the golf course!!. That includes the golfers in front of you. No more worrying about hitting into them. Measure the distance, from your ball, to carry a bunker. Measure the distance from the front of the green or a greenside bunker to the flag. Measure distances on the driving range (don't you hate trying to figure out what the real distance is to range targets?) The only down side of owning one of these...I am horrible at estimating distances since I measure everything! I can't see why anyone would want a GPS device once they have tried a rangefinder.

  10. David Norris says:

    I have just been persuaded to invest in a range finder. I did a bit of research and ultimately came to the conclusion that I was going to go buy the best I could for as cheap as I could. The Bushnell 1500 Rangefinder with Pinseeker no longer being in production, I scoured e-bay for some weeks and finally picked one up for under £150.

    As many have commented before me the big advantage is the ability to get a precise distance to the pin, no matter where it is situated on the green. This has been particularly useful over this winter when many winter greens have been used on our course, giving unfamiliar distances. GPS would not have helped in these circumastances.

    I can see no reason why I would need any other features than what the 1500 offers. I did not consider the Slope option as it is not legal in competition.

  11. Ronald Romard says:

    I am looking for a part , the battery cover for a pinseeker #06521 date June 2008

  12. Paul W says:

    Just a quick follow up...I just added another Bushnell to my bag at a second home in Utah. I purchased, on Ebay, a Bushnell 400 for $55. It works superbly and no real advantage to pay more for a newer edition. I have a pinseeker slope version also and never pay any attention to the slope value. I would not recommend buying a unit with slope.

  1. [... Tiger Woods has long said that the secret to good golf is always being pin high. When you're pin high, you don't have to worry about water hazards, bunkers, or ...]

  2. [... Tiger Woods has long said that the secret to good golf is always being pin high. When you're pin high, you don't have to worry about water hazards, bunkers, or ...]

  3. [... Tiger Woods has long said that the secret to good golf is always being pin high. When you're pin high, you don't have to worry about water hazards, bunkers, or ...]

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